2020 AHA Election

Voting begins June 1 and extends until July 15. Watch your email for your personalized link to the ballot. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact ltownsend@historians.org.

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President

The president-elect stands unopposed for election to president. The current president is Mary Lindemann, Univ. of Miami (early modern Europe, medicine).

Jacqueline Jones

University of Texas at Austin (Ellen C. Temple Chair, Mastin Gentry White Professor, and chair; US labor/African American/southern/women)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I study African American labor history with a focus on women and the American South. From 2014 to 2020 I served as chair of a large history department at a flagship public university, and faced challenges that affect many historians’ research, teaching, and working conditions—the corporatization of the university; problematic relations with the state legislature; the technological transformation of the classroom; a difficult job market for our students; and contentious debates over curriculum reform, faculty evaluation, and metrics of assessment. Our department has made strenuous efforts to halt the drop in the number of our majors, to increase the diversity of our faculty, to track the careers of our alums, and to counter the national trend of the proliferation of adjuncts and part-time instructors. Today the historical profession must contend with a general public skepticism about the humanities in general—the notion that a field of study is valuable only to the extent that it leads to a particular kind of job. Still, nursing students should learn about the history of medicine, and forestry students about the history of the environment (for example). Overall, students and the general public have an enduring appreciation for our discipline; they look to the past for stories about their own families and communities, for background on current trends and events, and for compelling accounts of the great drama that is human history, in all its rich diversity.

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has had dramatic effects on colleges and universities, museums, historical societies, libraries, and other places where history is taught, studied, researched, and appreciated. Going forward, the American Historical Association will no doubt have to confront new realities that affect professional historians—reduced budgets, the proliferation of online classrooms, the drive to hire more adjuncts and part-time faculty, and threats to the growth and viability of history departments. In these perilous times, the Association must maintain robust forms of advocacy on behalf of historians wherever they work and whatever their roles as researchers, teachers, and workers. As president, I would work to enhance the AHA’s ongoing commitments to protecting academic freedom, countering efforts to eliminate History departments and cut the history curriculum, opening and preserving access to archives, advancing innovations in undergraduate teaching, expanding career opportunities for PhDs, and ensuring decent working conditions for all historians.

President-elect

The president-elect serves a one-year term. At the end of the term, he or she stands unopposed for election for president. The current president-elect is Jacqueline Jones, Univ. of Texas at Austin (US labor/African American/southern/women).

James H. Sweet

University of Wisconsin–Madison (Vilas-Jartz Distinguished Professor; Africa, African diaspora, Brazil)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I am a historian of Africa and the African diaspora, with a particular focus on the cultures and politics of enslaved Africans in the Americas. I differ from every past AHA president in one notable way: I have spent my entire life in public schools, from my childhood in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) school system to my current position at the University of Wisconsin. Before coming to Madison, I taught at a regional university (UW-Oshkosh) and a minority-serving urban university (Florida International). I am an advocate for the value of a broad, liberal arts education for all people.

I am acutely aware of the challenges that face the profession—tumbling undergraduate enrollments, poor job prospects for our PhDs, increased emphases on metric-driven “measurable outcomes,” hostile state legislatures, and now the fallout from COVID-19. I have a strong record of defending the profession against such rending changes, first as chair of a large department at a flagship public university, and most recently as a Councilor on the AHA’s Research Division. But I will be blunt: I am tired of “defending” the profession. Addressing the symptoms of professional decline must go hand-in-hand with a renewed emphasis on the value of history in our broader society, especially during moments of crisis.

As AHA president, I would be a forward-facing champion for the discipline—publicly projecting the sense of wonder and excitement I feel about our colleagues’ best scholarship and teaching. I would work with AHA staff and membership to continue rethinking our annual meeting, with an eye toward greater inclusion of students and nonprofessionals. Building on advancement and fundraising I conducted as a department chair, I would also work to identify prominent Americans—all former history majors—that we could bring into our intellectual fold in public forums, at the AHA meeting, and perhaps as part of an advisory board to the membership. In short, I want to expand our intellectual circle, building greater public awareness and support for our mission. Americans care deeply about history; we can do a better job meeting them where they are.

Anand A. Yang

University of Washington (Walker Family Endowed Professor; comparative colonialisms, modern Asia, South Asia, world)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I began as a specialist in South Asian History. In recent years, my interests have become more comparative and global, my focus increasingly extending to other world regions, but without losing sight of my longstanding preoccupation with the workings of law, crime, race, class, caste, and gender under colonialism and imperialism.

As a joint appointment in the Jackson School of International Studies, I am also deeply attached to advancing area and international studies in my classes and outreach work in the K-12 system. In addition, throughout my career in public universities, I have always juggled research and teaching with leadership roles in the academy and professional and community organizations.

Through its meetings, publications, and projects, the AHA is uniquely positioned to showcase new historiographical directions; advocate for the discipline; encourage diversity in faculty and student ranks, in every sense of that word; and promote the importance of public scholarship, diversification of professional careers, and investment in digital humanities, to name three projects that it has made some headway on but needs to do more. The AHA must also partner with other learned societies, educational institutions, and our membership to plan for an era of increased digital learning and possibly fewer resources for research in the humanities. But now is also an opportune time for our profession and the AHA: our current health, environmental, and socioeconomic crisis urgently calls for the in-depth knowledge and understanding we historians are best equipped to impart. History always has much to tell us whenever we think we are living in unprecedented times.

Professional Division

The AHA Professional Division promotes integrity, fairness, and civility in the practice of history. Returning members are Rita C-K Chin, vice president, Univ. of Michigan (post-1945 Europe, immigration and displacement, race/ethnicity/gender); Reginald K. Ellis, councilor, Florida A&M Univ. (US since 1865, African American history); and Nerina Rustomji, councilor, St. John’s Univ., New York (Middle East, Islamic world).

Councilor

Derek Attig

University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign (director of career development; bookmobiles, graduate education)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

Since earning my PhD, I’ve been an adjunct, a freelance writer, a consulting historian, a teaching center worker, and a career advisor. I know firsthand what it means and feels like to be a historian in a variety of settings and statuses, and I’m committed to making the profession work for everybody. To that end, I’ve worked to include more voices in humanities career conversations, make those conversations helpful and intellectually engaging, and empower historians in all fields. In my current role, I spend every day helping graduate students claim agency and build fulfilling careers in and beyond academia. I helped design ImaginePhD.com, the first online career exploration tool for humanists, and I regularly collaborate with the AHA Career Diversity Initiative. In the difficult times ahead, the Professional Division has work to do to make our profession inclusive, equitable, and just. I want to be part of that work.

Simon Finger

College of New Jersey (adjunct professor; American colonial to early republic, medicine, maritime, labor)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I am trained as a historian of the early modern Atlantic world, with thematic interests in maritime history and the history of medicine. I first went on the job market amid the financial collapse of 2008, and have subsequently worked intermittently in visiting and adjunct positions, while also moonlighting as a freelance research assistant. Now, as the nation and the academy face the prospect another prolonged social and economic crisis, I believe that my background will enable me to bring a timely experience and perspective to the Professional Division. With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on all of our institutions, instructors off the tenure track are more vulnerable than ever to job insecurity, unrealistic expectations, and exploitative conditions. As councilor, I would work to represent the interests of contingent instructors, and to advocate on their behalf.

Research Division

The AHA Research Division works to help promote historical scholarship, preserve historical documents and artifacts, ensure equal and open access to information, and foster the dissemination of information about historical records and research. Returning members are Christopher R. Boyer, councilor, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago (environmental and social history of Mexico) and Sara Georgini, councilor, Massachusetts Historical Society (early American history, religion and culture, public history).

Vice President

Randy J. Sparks

Tulane University (professor; Atlantic world, US South, American religious)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I am a scholar of the Atlantic world, the US South, and American Religion. I have served as director of a humanities center at Tulane, and early in my career worked as an archivist. All the challenges that have confronted scholars, archivists, librarians, and public historians over the past decades—ranging from falling enrollments, to a reduction in tenure-track faculty, to cuts in research funds and leaves, to reduced hours and access to archives and libraries—are sure to be magnified by the current pandemic. It is too early to gauge exactly what the fallout will be, but there can be no doubt that its impact on all the areas that fall under the Research Division’s purview will be severe. As the largest organization of historians in the US, the AHA must take the lead in charting our way through these troubled waters. The AHA has a vital role to play for our members and for the profession as a whole—never in my lifetime has that mandate seemed more important.

Ben Vinson III

Case Western Reserve University (Hiram C. Haydn Professor and provost; African diaspora, colonial Mexico)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

As a career historian, university provost, former journal editor, chair of the Board of the National Humanities Center, and as an Executive Committee member of the National Humanities Alliance, I have championed research excellence and relentlessly tried to cultivate the work of others. I have equally been passionate in promoting equity and inclusion in academe. Recent years have proven challenging for our field and for the Humanities. As vice president, I would not only bring expertise as a scholar-administrator, but also a zeal for building and fortifying networks to address some of the challenges we collectively face. This includes strengthening relations across our sub-fields, while engineering meaningful ties with other disciplines. It includes exploring opportunities for growing leadership capacity, while also constructing bridges across institutional boundaries. Equally, I am interested exploring new frontiers and horizons for historical research, in an age fueled by rapidly evolving technology.

Councilor

Anita Guerrini

Oregon State University (professor emerita; early modern life science and medicine, history and ecological restoration)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I am a historian of early modern European life science and medicine, with an additional research track in historical ecology and environmental history. I’ve conducted archival research in six countries. My career has run the gamut from a long-term adjunct to an endowed professorship. A member of AHA since 1983, I’ve organized, presented in, and chaired sessions. This time of solitude has made me recognize how deeply we are connected as historians, and how much more we can do to strengthen ties and share research and publication via electronic means. As a former adjunct, I am acutely aware of the critical importance of access to funding and research materials. The AHA has done much to support this, but we need to do more. As a councilor in the Research Division I will strive to expand these services to all ranks and employment status.

Pernille Røge

University of Pittsburgh (associate professor; 18th-century France and French empire, political economy)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I am a historian of the early modern French and Danish colonial empires, with a focus on political economy, slavery, and abolition. I received my historical training in Europe before moving to the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. If elected, I would look forward to helping the American Historical Association promote historical scholarship through its scholarly publications and in collaboration with its membership, educational institutions, museums, and archives. I am particularly eager to help further the AHA’s emphasis on ensuring equal access to information at a moment in which scholarly resources of all sorts, from archives to instruction, are increasingly migrating to digital platforms. I currently serve on the executive committee of the Society for French Historical Studies and on the editorial board of The Historian. Alongside my teaching responsibilities at Pitt, I also enjoy my role as convener of the university’s Early Modern Worlds Initiative and co-directing an interdisciplinary, public-facing project on Gun Violence and Its Histories.

Teaching Division

The AHA Teaching Division collects and disseminates information about the training of teachers, studies and encourages innovative methods of instruction, and works to foster cooperation among faculty. Returning members are Laura McEnaney, vice president, Whittier Coll. (World War II and postwar, working class/gender/race); Shannon T. Bontrager, councilor, Georgia Highlands Coll., Cartersville (commemorations and public memory, death and burial of military dead); and Alexandra Hui, councilor, Mississippi State Univ. (European science and culture, modern Germany, sensory and environment).

Councilor

Matthew MacLean

Brooklyn Technical High School (social studies teacher; modern Middle East, infrastructure, nationalism)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

As a recent PhD now teaching in an urban public high school, I can bring a variety of experiences to the AHA Teaching Division. I aim to build bridges between teachers and professors, both to better prepare students for undergraduate coursework and to help K-12 educators incorporate current historical research into their teaching. I want to expand the AHA’s K-12 outreach—particularly in making lesson-ready primary and secondary sources in underrepresented fields available to teachers. I have seen the potential of such outreach myself; 34 of my students attended the 2020 annual meeting and came away amazed at the topics, events, and people they encountered. Finally, to alleviate the intense pressures of academic job market in an extraordinarily difficult historical moment, I want to explore how the AHA can encourage PhD programs to find innovative ways to prepare their graduates for public school teaching positions.

Katharina Matro

Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart (history and economics teacher; modern central and eastern Europe)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

As a high school history teacher and a scholar, I feel passionately about bringing research into classrooms. Today’s generation of students is among the most politically active and socially conscious. My students care deeply about the environment and social justice, but unfortunately, too many experience history as a subject utterly detached from their lives. Historians have an opportunity to demonstrate to students that our work engages the questions that matter to them. As a member of the Teaching Division, I would help establish the AHA as a bridge between academic historians and classroom teachers. Teachers often lack the time or resources to curate current historical content. Scholars in academia often struggle to make their work available and accessible to high school students. By linking the work of these communities, we can both enrich the high school history curriculum and show students why studying history is a worthy and relevant pursuit.

At Large

This Council member will represent the interests of graduate students in Council, play a leadership role in organizing participation of graduate students in AHA activities, and disseminate information about AHA activities and initiatives to graduate students in history.

Councilor

Christine Cook

Wayne State University (PhD candidate; women in military, US since 1877, world, gender/sexuality/women)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I am a PhD candidate in history, writing my dissertation on the history of the Women’s Army Corps during the Cold War. My major fields are history of the United States after 1877 and world history, with a minor in the field of gender, sexuality, and women. I come by my research interest honestly, having served as an officer in the US Army National Guard and Reserves for 30 years, retiring as a colonel. I would bring my many years of administrative, leadership, and teamwork experience to this position, while representing and focusing on the needs of graduate students in AHA activities. Since I have served in my university’s HGSA, first as president for two years, then secretary for another year, I intend to disseminate information about AHA events through HGSA networks and other methods. I hope to encourage graduate students to engage fully with the AHA so they can use the organization as a networking opportunity for their future as historians.

Sherri Sheu

University of Colorado, Boulder (PhD candidate; modern US, environmental)

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Candidate Statement

I am an environmental historian, a former seasonal park ranger with the National Park Service, and a first-generation college student. I bring experience to this role as the former president of the Graduate Student Caucus of the American Society for Environmental History. During my term I would concentrate on three interrelated issues for graduate students and early career scholars. First, the AHA must focus more on mental health support and awareness, which has to losses of careers and lives. Second, many in our profession rely on a fragile social safety net, often thousands of miles away from their support systems. Financial insecurity should be addressed, especially with an uncertain job market and a looming recession. Finally, we need to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level to integrate a spectrum of voices and experiences into our field. I look forward to tackling these challenging topics if elected.

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